Last week, Praxis was out in Austin, Texas to chat with 50 homeschool teens about their interests, career goals, and how to jumpstart their professional development.
We partnered with KoSchool, a private alternative high school, and teens heard from Praxis participants and alumni, business executives local to the Austin area, and participated in a “maker” activity where they flexed their collaboration and “get stuff done” muscles. Attendees left the event with actionable advice on how to navigate their entry into the professional world, given by homeschool graduates who have already blazed that trail.
Current participant Caitlyn Scheel opened up the event with her story of taking her education into her own hands by first convincing her parents to let her be homeschooled and then convincing them to let her do Praxis. At age 17, she’s currently working for Practice Paradox while also customizing her bootcamp experience to fit her goals. As for her parents, Caitlyn added, “My parents sometimes still want me to go to college, but now they know I am already starting a successful career even though I’m not legally old enough to own a house.”
Ian Evins, the Operations Manager at Praxis business partner My Magic Mud addressed the crowd next and also pulled from his background as a homeschooler, crediting his steadfastness and creativity in the face of obstacles with his alternative education background. When ask what he looks for when hiring young professionals, Ian responded, ““I don’t look at someone’s education background when hiring. I look at their skills and ability to solve problems.”
Recent Praxis graduate Angela Blair spoke next, also citing her homeschool background as a unique experience that allowed her to graduate at age 16 and then travel to China rather than pursue college. Inspired by the entrepreneurs she saw during her time there, Angela returned to the States determined to gain the skills needed to successfully run a business, so she could go back to China and assist those entrepreneurs. Along the way, she found Praxis and through the bootcamp realized the skills she had how to communicate them to potential employers.
Continuing the trend of Praxis graduates, alumnus Brad Matthews offered a change of pace as someone who found Praxis and developed a passion for self-directed education only after attending University and becoming a teacher. Unable to square the public school system with his beliefs on education, Brad left his teaching job, joined Praxis, and has been working at Practice Paradox ever since. When asked to compare his time in University to his time in Praxis, Brad laughed and replied, “One was a waste of time for four years and one actually gave me practical skills. There’s really no comparison.”
Cade Summers was the final participant speaker of the day. Branding himself as a “double dropout,” Cade was always interested in alternative forms of education, and thanks to the flexible schedule at KoSchool (where Cade graduated high school), he was able to put in more hours at his jobs and gain valuable work experience while also honing his communication skills with KoSchool’s Socratic sessions. Praxis was a natural fit for Cade when he was looking for his next step, and we’re excited to have him start next week with our March class!
After a break for lunch, future KoSchool director Ana Josephson got everyone up and moving for a “maker” challenge where groups of 4 had 18 minutes to construct the tallest tower possible with spaghetti, tape, kite string, and a marshmallow (to be used as the tallest measuring point). With the clock running, the groups had to put aside debating what would or wouldn’t work and go straight into building. While not all of the structures were still standing when it came time to measure them, each group was able to talk about their strategy and watch the TED discussion video associated with the challenge.
Nick Spiller of Capital Factory closed out the event by encouraging the audience to think entrepreneurially and not wait for permission to pursue their goals. After polling the crowd on some of their favorite inventions, he reminded them, “Not a single person gave that entrepreneur permission to make that thing.”
Thanks to everyone who came out! We enjoyed getting to know you and having our participants and alumni share their stories with you.